And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These words, some of the last recorded words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (16:15-16), contain for us the command and expectation of the Savior that all who believe on His saving work are to be baptized. Matthew’s Gospel parallels this, commanding that those who are made disciples are to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At the birth of the Church at Pentecost, Peter commanded those who were convicted and asked how they might respond to the Gospel, “Repent and be baptized
every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of
your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Yet, these are not the only teachings on baptism in the Scriptures. There are some wondrous teachings that I shall allow to speak for themselves here:
Romans 6:1-4: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We
were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we
too might walk in newness of life.
Galatians 3:25-29: But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Ephesians 4:4-7: There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Colossians 2:9-15: For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In
him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands,
by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having
been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him
through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the
dead. And you, who
were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God
made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
1 Peter 3:18-22: For Christ also suffered
once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring
us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the
spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because
they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of
Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight
persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism,
which corresponds to this which now saves you is not as a removal of dirt from
the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Today, I am being baptized. After eleven years as a believer and follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, I am being baptized in obedience to His command, to share in the grace that comes from being part of His Body, His Bride, His Church. Even as I do this, I remember the words of Jesus to James and John, the sons of Zebedee in Mark 10:
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are
asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized
with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
I am able. God help me.